Serving Ghana In Underserved Locations

Naana-Jane-Opoku-AgyemangSettling down to work in a remote or hard to  reach area is a challenge. Stories of teachers and other professionals refusing postings or reluctant to accept postings to such areas are not uncommon.

While reasons given for teachers assuming such postures do have many merits, it is also very clear that in our nation building effort, individuals must look beyond their personal comfort and rather consider themselves as privileged to be in a position to be a beacon of hope for others to follow.

Of all professionals, teachers usually are people whose services are needed in the most remote parts of the country. While many communities in Ghana lack facilities like potable water, electricity, clinics and motorable roads, schools are bound to be found almost everywhere.

The combined effect is that teachers are at the mercy of working under conditions of extreme social deprivation. This situation makes young teachers afraid to accept to begin work in such underserved areas, especially when an already difficult situation is likely to be made worse by the inability of the Ghana Education Service and the Ministry of Education to process the salaries and allowances for young ones in good time.

Despite all the challenges, newly trained teachers must remember that such communities are inhabited by Ghanaian children whose right to education must be fulfilled. Accepting to teach in a rural area must not only be viewed as a means to earn a living but an opportunity to give back to society the same privilege of enlightenment that all teachers have received.

Teaching in a rural area gives young teachers the chance to see beyond their immediate horizons so they can appreciate little things that they may have hitherto taken for granted. It is alright for young teachers to feel some level of anxiety on their first postings due to sentimental and other reasons but the question that arises is how stakeholders can help in extinguishing the anxieties that freshly posted teachers face when they report for work for the first time in such challenging circumstances?

TEACHERS

The Ghana Education Service has time without number kept these teachers at post without being put on the proper salary scale for so long. Bureaucratic inertia in the GES has assumed monstrous proportions in that some teachers stay at post for more than two years without being put on their proper salary scales or without being paid any salary at all.
Promotions are sometimes swift but the appreciation in remuneration that goes with it seldom follows with commensurate alacrity.

These kinds of conditions plummet the morale of newly posted Teachers and they end up discouraging younger trainees from accepting postings to work in underserved areas.

Aside the role that the GES must play in making conditions a little humane for newly posted teachers, other stakeholders (including Teachers themselves) must also ensure that they play their part in making sure that working conditions on the ground reflect a fair level of comfort that can be endured by all if we are to achieve our educational goals as a country.

PTA and SMC chairmen in conjunction with Assemblymen in the communities must facilitate the settlement of newly trained teachers. Headteachers are to draw the attention of these stakeholders   to the need for them to help get decent places of abode for teachers freshly posted from college.

It is a collective effort and newly trained teachers must try to brighten the corner where they find themselves. They should not panic when they find their new remote environments hostile initially. It is a baptism that all other senior colleagues have gone through.

As young adults, we should always try to experience life out of our usual comfort zone. Young teachers must remember their duty tour at such places is for a period and not forever. They should let the ‘bad’ conditions of their new station inspire them to make a move to better themselves within the shortest possible time.

Young teachers in such conditions should rather turn these torments into testimonies. We should always keep at the back of our minds that the children in these underserved areas also deserve education and we must try at all cost to leave a mark such that we will be remembered years after we are gone.

Notwithstanding the aforementioned teachers must not compromise on their personal security. In getting accommodation, they must make sure such premises have secure locks. It will be a good idea to procure extra padlocks to complement the keys that will be handed over to you by your landlords so that even if someone has a spare key to the original locks they can still not get access to rooms of young or new teachers.

Teachers in villages and hard to reach areas must stay in a closely knit manner. They must be their brother’s keepers and must avoid meddling in local politics, Chieftaincy disputes, land/property litigation and so on. Teachers must as much as practicable avoid excessively controversial NDC/NPP arguments that will usually lead to unnecessary conflicts and tension.

Lady teachers must avoid excessive flamboyance and carry themselves in moderation in all things. They must shy away from the path of the “icons” of such communities. Such people are already hooked and may already possess multiple wives and concubines.
Newly posted lady teachers must avoid accepting too many unsolicited gifts; they may be required to pay for them in kind some day. They must stay away from secluded places and avoid walking on lonely paths unaccompanied.
Alcohol for women is a No No! This is because the consumption of alcohol compromises ones senses and when that happens anybody at all can make a meal out of them.

Teachers, especially females, must learn to scream. They must scream as loud as they can when they feel threatened. Do not threaten to scream but scream without notice to your assailant. This will make their ‘balls’ surrender and in no time such attackers will escape with tails between his thighs.

We must endeavor to keep our phone close to us always and use a network that works fairly reliably in our new locations. This may mean buying an extra Sim card or switching to a different network but it’s worth it.

We must not expend all our phone credit on social calls but must always make sure we have credit available and our batteries are charged before nightfall just in case there is an emergency. This may also mean buying an extra battery or two such that in the darkest hour we can reach out for help.

ALCOHOL

Male teachers must avoid the obvious luscious women and girls. They must keep in mind that some village folks don’t take kindly to competition in this regard .As for the school girls it’s a NO NO! Teachers are supposed to command respect of these young girls and even though admittedly some may come throwing themselves at you; it is the triumph over such age old and biblical temptations that give the real measure of the man in us.

Young teacher you have a whole life time ahead of you and that should not be sacrificed for just a brief silly moment of indiscretion. Avoid alcohol if you can and learn to do things by yourself as much as possible. School children can run errands for us but we must always watch the limits to which they can go.

For all teachers; “the enemy of your friend is not necessarily your enemy”. Young teachers must always keep a friendly but professional disposition. They must dress decently always because in these days, we may never know when video cameras, hidden cameras and other gadgets will visit your school.

We must not dress down because it’s a Friday; before you know the whole world will watch you on TV shabbily dressed and unkempt. Your friends and family will be disappointed in you that the only opportunity you got to appear on TV, is the one in which you wore a bathroom slippers and an untidy hair to school.

Teachers in general must live above reproach as such we must always watch our behavior because it not only what we teach in the classroom alone that pupils learn but they also mimic our way of life. It is not easy working in unfamiliar territory but in the case of teachers, it is one of the things we have to deal with as a demand of our profession.

We can either choose to make the most of the situation by deliberately trying to make an impact on the lives of those we teach or bury ourselves in oblivion, taking our salary but not earning it. In both ways, nature will always give her reward to us in good measure.   By Napoleon-Bonaparte Afenyo

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